In the new world of lower commodity prices, many sub-Saharan African countries are having to diversify their economies. And while sub-Saharan Africa has had periods of rapid growth, the process by which workers move from low-productivity jobs to better paying higher productivity jobs has been slower than in other regions. The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa devotes an entire chapter to studying the potential benefits of a stepped-up diversification agenda. In this podcast, co-author Axel Schimmelpfennig says Africa’s young entrepreneurs should be at the heart of the diversification process.
Axel Schimmelpfennig, IMF Mission Chief for Uganda
Populism has become a bit of a buzz word of late. It’s often at the very center of debates about politics and elections. But what about the economic implications of populism? That was the subject of a seminar at this year’s American Economic Association’s Annual Meeting. The panel was organized by the IMF’s Antonio Spilimbergo, and included economic heavyweights Dani Rodrik, Raghuram Rajan, and political scientist Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser. In this Podcast, Kaltwasser says populism is creeping into economic policy.
Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser is an Associate Professor in Political Science at Diego Portales University in Chile, and co-author of Populism: A Very Short Introduction.
While technology is reshaping economies around the world, a recent book published by the World Bank suggests developing countries are missing out on a huge opportunity. In this podcast, economist William Maloney, says the potential returns on investment into Research and Development by developing countries are astounding, and could dwarf international aid flows. Yet, developing country firms and governments invest very little toward realizing this potential. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group, and co-author of The Innovation Paradox. He was a guest lecturer at the IMF’s Developing Economies Seminar Series.
William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group
There are many layers to development. Sometimes there’s a need where the solution is not at all obvious. But other times it’s simply about connecting the dots- when the solution is available but out of reach due to the lack of infrastructure like roads, power lines or telephone wires. Technology is helping connect those dots more than ever before, and the phenomenon has come to be known as leapfrogging. In this podcast, we hear from the people behind Zipline, a start-up that uses drones to make emergency blood deliveries to remote clinics in Rwanda.
Gross domestic product, or GDP, is the one statistic that almost everyone knows is used to measure economic growth. But in this podcast, economist Diane Coyle suggests GDP may be a poor measure of prosperity. With all the technological advances in recent years one would expect that economies have become more productive. But when measured in GDP the numbers show the opposite is true. Coyle refers to this phenomenon as the productivity puzzle, and says the mismeasurement of digital activities within the economy has a lot to do with it. Coyle is Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester, and spoke at the IMF Statistical forum on Measuring the Digital Economy.
Read her blog The Enlightened Economist
2 years after 195 countries came together under the Paris Agreement to combat the effects of climate change, leading climate economist Nicholas Stern remains cautiously optimistic. In his landmark report on the impact of climate change published in 2006, Stern warned that the cost of inaction would be far greater for future generations than the costs of actions taken to reduce carbon emissions. In this podcast, Stern says while the world “passed the test” when signing the Paris Agreement, he worries that policy makers will not act quickly enough. Stern joined a panel discussion on the economic and financial issues related to climate change at the IMF World-Bank Annual meetings.
Nicholas Stern, Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics, and Chairman of its Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Blockchain technology is a shared, public ledger of transactions that’s open to inspection but not subject to any form of central control. And while it offers potential for a variety of applications, its most famous is providing the platform for virtual currencies like bitcoin. Peter Smith is co-founder and CEO of Blockchain, and in this podcast, he talks about the evolution of crypto currency financial systems and what it could mean for big data analytics. Smith was the keynote speaker at the IMF’s Fifth Statistical forum on Measuring the Digital Economy.
Peter Smith, co-founder and CEO of Blockchain.
For much of the past century the 9 to 5 job with benefits at a firm was what most people associated with financial stability. But as technology reshapes the labor market, more people are branching out on their own. A new report by Freelancers Union says freelancers will be the majority of the US workforce within 10 years if the current trend continues. In this podcast, Sara Horowitz, Executive Director of Freelancers Union, says freelancers are adapting to the changing nature of work.
In September 2017, the Caribbean was hit by the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Irma’s 185 mile per hour winds left several countries devastated. During a seminar on sovereign debt at the IMF World-Bank Annual meetings, Grenada’s Prime Minister and chair of CARICOM, Keith Mitchell, said catastrophe risk insurance could help vulnerable countries mitigate some of the risk from increasingly severe weather patterns.
Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and chair of the Caribbean Community CARICOM
When the government of India last year declared that much of its currency in circulation would cease to be legal tender, digital transactions surged. Mobile payment platforms like PayTM stepped in to fill the void, and in the process are providing financial services to millions of people unable to open a traditional bank account. In this podcast, PayTM’s Madhur Deora, says financial technology is having an impact on India’s development. Deora joined a seminar about Fintech, during the IMF World-Bank Annual Meetings.
Madhur Deora, PayTM Chief Financial Officer
The IMF's latest regional economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa suggests the broad-based slowdown in sub-Saharan Africa is easing. In this podcast, co-author Jarek Wieczorek, says growth is up slightly from last year, but so is public debt. "If we maintain the trend we saw in the last 3 years, the debt will become unsustainable in many sub-Saharan African countries.”
Contributors: Jarek Wieczorek, Head of the Regional Studies Division in the IMF’s African Department
Les dernières perspectives de l’Afrique subsaharienne portent à croire que le ralentissement généralisé s’atténue. Dans ce podcast, coauteur Jarek Wieczorek, explique la croissance s’accélère, mais la dette publique augmente aussi. « Si la tendance actuelle persiste, la dette deviendra insoutenable dans plusieurs de pays ».
Jarek Wieczorek, chef de la division des études régionales au Département Afrique du FMI
As new technology rapidly transforms the financial services sector, central bankers are faced with mitigating risks without stifling innovation. But In this podcast, South Africa’s Central Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, says inflation, currency depreciation, and political uncertainty remain his biggest challenges. Kganyago joined a panel discussion on what Fintech means for central banking during the 2017 IMF World-Bank Annual Meetings in Washington.
Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank
The latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund show global growth is on the rise. A very different picture from early last year, when the world economy faced faltering growth and financial market turbulence. In this podcast, IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld, delves into the current trends behind this recent upswing.
Maurice Obstfeld, IMF Director of Research, and Economic Counsellor.
The technological revolution has far reaching implications and is rapidly changing the way the world does business. But technology also offers the potential for finding solutions to some of the challenges facing the global economy. To encourage creative thinking among its economists, the IMF recently opened an innovation lab. In this podcast, Tristan Walker, first iLab Chief, says innovation will help make the institution more agile.
Tristan Walker, Innovation Lab Unit Chief
80 percent of the world’s energy consumption is based on fossil fuels which account for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. Climate change is affecting the global economy and has become a defining feature in energy policy making. In this podcast, International Energy Agency Chief Economist, Laszlo Varro, says while efforts to reduce carbon emissions are generally off track, technological progress and investment momentum in the clean energy sector are reasons for optimism.
Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist for the International Energy Agency
Good data and statistics can help drive economies and are the basis for sound policy decisions in both private and public sectors. The advent of ‘big data’ poses opportunities for private companies and public institutions to better understand today`s economic and social trends. A new study by the IMF shows how big data can also provide valuable insight for economic and financial analysis. In this podcast, coauthor Diane Kostroch discusses the benefits and the challenges that come with big data.
Diane Kostroch, IMF economist, Statistics Department.
Dans ce podcast, Randa Filfili, directrice générale de l’entreprise sénégalaise Zena Exotic Fruits raconte pourquoi les petites et moyennes entreprises africaines ont souvent du mal à survivre, et les défis auxquels font face les femmes entrepreneurs. Filfili était de passage à Washington pour participer dans le séminaire intitule, Comment renouer avec une croissance vigoureuse en Afrique subsaharienne dans le cadre des Réunions de Printemps du FMI et du groupe Banque Mondiale.
Randa Filfili, directrice générale de l’entreprise sénégalaise Zena Exotic Fruits.
Only a third of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have a bank account, and in this podcast, Tanzania Bank Governor, Benno Ndulu, says the lack of access to financial services is a key constraint on the region’s economic growth. Ndulu is a champion for bringing financial services to the poorest segments of society and as the current Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, he has helped pioneer some of the most innovative policy approaches to extending the financial system to the unbanked. This conversation with Benno Ndulu is featured in the September 2017 issue of Finance and Development Magazine.
Contributors: Benno Ndulu, Bank of Tanzania Governor, and Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.
While Africa’s workforce expands, the lack of modern and efficient infrastructure is inhibiting economic growth. The prospect of building power plants and transportation networks is daunting for many countries with limited resources, but in this podcast, former Chief Economist of the African Development Bank, Mthuli Ncube, says reducing risks for private sector investors could help Africa build the infrastructure it so desperately needs.
Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director of Quantum Global Research Lab, visiting professor at Oxford University, and co-editor of Infrastructure in Africa: Lessons for Future Development.
Extreme weather has hit Malawi’s economy hard over the last two years. Severe flooding followed by a drought—the worst in its history—caused widespread crop failure and placed 6.7 million people at risk of starvation. But a remarkable humanitarian effort helped reduce the impact of the drought on the most vulnerable segment of the population. An increase by the IMF to the amount of resources it provides to Malawi, as well as sizable contributions from Malawi’s development partners like the World Food Program and the World Bank, enabled the country to address the worst humanitarian crisis in its history.
In this feature podcast, we hear from the small-scale farmers beset by the effects of climate change, beneficiaries of food aid including school children, and key players within the various agencies who were faced with making tough decisions in the throes of a major food crisis.
Oral Williams: IMF Mission Chief for Malawi
Jack Ree: IMF Resident Representative in Malawi
Goodall Gondwe: Malawi’s Finance Minister
Ben Botolo: Malawi’s Secretary to the Treasury
Coco Ushiyama: World Food Program Representative for Malawi
Roisin DeBurca: Unicef’s Deputy Director for Malawi
Laura Kullenberg: Country Manager for the World Bank in Malawi
Richard Record: Senior Country Economist for the World Bank in Malawi
As China’s economy catches up in size with that of the United States, some predict the renminbi will soon challenge the dollar’s dominance in international finance. But in this podcast, Cornell University’s Eswar Prasad says there are limits to how far China’s currency can go without undertaking significant domestic reforms. Prasad, a former IMF economist himself, was invited to IMF headquarters in Washington to talk about his latest book Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi
Eswar Prasad, Professor of Trade Policy and Economics at Cornell University, Senior Fellow at the Brookings institution, and author.
Drought, regional conflict, and slow credit growth are taking their toll on Uganda's economy. While per-capita growth has hovered around 5 percent for the last 20 years, the IMFs latest economic assessment shows it has fallen to 1/2 percent. In this podcast, the report's coauthor Axel Schimmelpfennig, says some strategic infrastructure investment and Uganda's untapped oil reserves could help turn things around.
Contributors: Axel Schimmelpfennig, IMF Mission Chief for Uganda
By 2035 sub-Saharan Africa will have more working-age people than the rest of the world’s regions combined. This growing workforce bulge will have to be met with jobs, but the region remains one of the toughest places to do business. Meanwhile, small-unregistered household businesses provide up to 90 percent of jobs outside of agriculture. The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa devotes an entire chapter on the informal economy, and in this podcast we speak with economist Ali Mansoor, coauthor of the study.
Ali Mansoor, IMF Division Chief for West Africa, and coauthor of the report.
More than two billion people worldwide are without bank accounts, and only one in three adults in sub-Saharan Africa have access to any type of financial services. But Tayo Oviosu, Founder of Nigeria’s leading mobile payment platform says financial technology—or fintech, is making access to finance possible for millions of un-banked Nigerians.
Tayo Oviosu, Founder and CEO of Paga, Nigeria’s mobile payment platform.
Watch webcast of IMF World-Bank Spring meetings panel on Digital Financial Inclusion